All Skoda podium at APRC Longyou

The China Rally Longyou round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) saw the rise of three Skoda Fabia R5 cars rise to the top – taking the top-three overall placings after 148km of competition.

Won by Jun Xu and ShengPing Zhu it was Jing Jin/RuPing Liu and Dong Pan/Hui Gao that finished second and third respectively – marking a perfect start/finish record for the top-spec car.

Held across 10 special stages between the Friday and Sunday, using a mix of bamboo forest gravel and concrete road surfaces, less than half the original starters made it to the finish.

A return to the APRC since COVID-19 restrictions took effect in 2020, China Rally Longyou began on Friday morning with a ceremonial function at the Public Culture Service Centre. That was followed in the early afternoon with the running of the 1.82km Shiyuan Super Special Stage – a tricky road with elevation changes that crosses over itself.

China Rally 2023, Jin Jing
The following five special stages held on the Saturday were dominated by Xu/Zhu, returning to the service park with a lead of 2min39.8sec. Of the 11 starters only seven got to the end of the day.
China Rally 2023, Pan Dong

Resuming on the Sunday, the idyllic and settled weather paved a level playing field for the remaining crews. The following four stages cut the field further. Xu and Zhu cruised to the finish, third on three stages and second to Jing on the final.

Returning to the finish ceremony at Longyou, Xu and Zhu had a commanding 1m26.2sec margin over Jin and Liu, while Pan and Gao were a further 3min06.7sec behind. Qilong Tang and Dengying finished fourth in a Mitsubishi EVO9.

While Xu/Zhu take maximum points toward the Asia Cup – a subseries of the overall title, all entrants that started the rally are eligible to contest the overall title. Being held at Danau Toba Rally, Indonesia – 24 to 26 November 2023, the outcome will determine the season champion as well as the Asia Cup winner.